Thursday, 20 July 2017

Get lost why dont ya!

NOTE: This blog is currently undergoing works

All my pictures in the preceding entries have gone, thanks to Photobucket (my  - now ex - photo hosting service), changing their terms of service without notice and requiring an extortionate $400USD P/A plan to allow 3rd party hosting. Some 7+ years of work down the drain. thanks for that, photobucket.

I will be working to resolve this, but as you can imaging, this is going to take some considerable time and effort. The text is still fine but there are no pictures, which sort of kills it - I'm sure you don't just want to read my drivel.

I will keep this text at the top of my latest post, (which is the landing page if you go to www. sharkcaver.blogspot.com.au), until all entries have been rectified.

So on behalf of photobucket, I apologise for the inconvenience, but I am determined to get it back to how it was - via an alternative photo hosting site. That's going to take some time to resolve.👎


So I have been asked a bit lately what would I recommend in regards to sat nav in your vehicle. Would I recommend a hema such as the HN7, a tablet, an Ipad or some other device.

Well at the outset, I have to say I have absolutely no experience with any apple product, nor do I plan to. Too many handcuffs for my liking. But those that have them, love them, so there must be something of worth there.

Since 2009 when I first set up an incar sat nav (and I'm not talking Garmin Nuvi's, Tom Tom's, Navman's and other street routable portable devices), I went with the good old PC, running various operating systems and had the output linked to an external monitor.





That has served my purposes very well, although it does come with some hangup's. Like trying to change mapset's on the move for example. Its almost impossible to do, and cant be done safely IMO.

But I've never been lost and have recorded some great data over the years. For example, my track logs from 2009 - 2015:





After my Canning Stock Route trip, the old 10" netbook hard drive running XP was starting to play up. I'm surprised it lasted that long. That poor old hard drive had been beaten to a pulp from off road corrugations for years without issue. The Canning finally sorted that out - not to mention the other vehicle damage suffered.

So I replaced that 12 months ago with a 14" lappy with SSD, running windows 10.  That has brought me up to the modern era. But I'm getting over trying to get touch screen drivers to run on Win10 effectively. That allows me control over my mapping program from the onitor itself - the laptop is buried under the seat.

Since 2009 my software of choice has been PC ozi explorer and I can get my way around this  reasonably well. Its pretty full on for the novice, but in reality, its not that hard to master most functions you would need to use for off road navigation with a bit of practice.

Some years ago I also purchased a cheap Chinese 7" street navigator running a WinCe platform, purchased a licence and put ozi on that. That wasn't too bad, Having 2 navs running at once, displaying different map sets of the same location can be handy. Its been sitting in my glove box since my old car failed on me though in 2015.





Over the years, I've purchased a lot of ozi mapsets. So to stick with what I have is a no brainer - unless someone can show me a better alternative for my map set library I've built up, primarily in ECW and various Ozf formats. 

So that brings me to the question that's been asked of me: what mapping platform to run? 

I recommended an android tablet. The reason being, its far cheaper than a hema (if you already have maps that is - and most maps aren't cheap) and far more versatile. Not only can you use a tablet for navigation, but there is a whole world of apps out there to cover almost any need one could have. The hema can't do that. And if you buy a 3/4G capable unit or have access to wifi, then you have the world of the webs at your finger tips too.

So, not to rest on my laurels, I put my money where my mouth is and went out and bought a tablet, specifically for this purpose. I'm unsure how this will go in the future, so will just have to give it a shot. With the PC, I've saved all my files as a GPX file. This allows me to save both waypoints and tracks in the one file. I can also exchange it between different platforms and import that into Google Earth if needed. However, Ozi android, still after all these years in development, cant handle .GPX files. So to make my older files usable on the tablet, I'm going to have to save both waypoints and tracks as separate files.

It can be very handy when in an area you have been to before and cant seem t find your way. Uploading previous saved tracklogs can be a godsend when you cant find your way. So that is one issue I will need to contend with. 

Onto the Tab. I already have a quality sSmsung tab with 4g . But I want a stand alone tab for my nav and my 8" Samsung isn't big enough for me. So enter a lenovo tab3 10 business. On special at the Good Guys atm for $200. Here is where I strike my biggest drama's. trying to find out if the tab has 2 features I need

1. a stand alone GPS
2. A magnometer (compass)

In the past, asking salesmen these questions was a mission in futility. They haven't a freakin clue.

Funny how things don't change. 

The salesman was getting a bit irate at my barrage of questioning. I said, if you can confirm these features you have a sale, if you cant, I have to walk. I must have spent a couple of hours with him. He tried to tell me it only had a-gps (needing an internet connection) and if it didn't have Glonass in the specs it wasn't stand alone. So I told him that's crap and he should google Glosnass - a Russian GPS constellation

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GLONASS 


Anyway, with no Glonass in the specs, he wasn't keen to sell it to me. After searching numerous sites for specs on this tab, we agreed it probably did have a standalone gps and I would give it a shot. In fact, is there any tabs out there without a stand alone GPS only A-GPS?? So I saved at least $150 over a similar sized and lesser memory Samsung.

Once home and through the initial set up, I downloaded a GPS status app. And my fears were quelled. It did have stand alone GPS - phew. But no magnometer (compass). It would have been nice to have that magnometer, but for nav purposes isnt' required, so I can live with that. Funny though the lower spec 10" Lenovo showed an electronic compass.  And Android 5.1.





It might have been a better bet in hindsight. I forgot I had read that with Android 6 (the OS of my new tab), writing to SD cards had been disabled and provided some difficulties. I recalled this when I went to play with the new tab and found some issues. So to get around this, I have mounted the 64Gb card as internal storage. I can still transfer files with USB transfer on the PC to the card so all is not lost.

Anyway, teething issues sorted, I payed my $32 for an OziAndroid licence key and got that up and running with my truckload of maps. The GPS can be a bit flakey at times compared to my gps module on the PC, but it is good enough. I suppose I could go buy a bluetooth gps module if I dont like this flakiness at some stage in the future:








I then installed wiki camps to the tab, another valuable feature of using a tab:






My next task was for street nav routable maps. I was going to go with Igo - somthing I'm familiar with, but getitng no response from a vendor made me think again. My mate Woody, who was one who asked me which way he should go, put me onto here we go (formerly here maps). A free app with a free map download for off line usage.







I tried it out today, and although I knew where I was going, it seemed to do the job, even when I deliberately veered onto a different route. Like all rout-able street maps, sometimes you scratch your head where they take you. I've always said, it pays to look at a map first and rough plan your route.

So, to make this a going concern, I had to sort out mounting it in the car. I went the ram mount option. A seat bolt flexible pedestal, with quick release tab holder. Not a cheap option at $120, but it should do the job. I put a brace on the stem to help sort some of the movement this will produce when in the rough - mind you, I had a heavier monitor on a different stem and never bothered with the vibration in the past.

I was always planning on running this in landscape. However, it seemed to encroach too much into the passenger area for my liking, and a 10" tab provides plenty of field of view in the East-West plane, so my decision was made. Portrait it shall be:











It doesn't encroach too much on the passenger area, so that is a good thing too:







And I can easily turn it out of the way to gain full access to radio and climate controls when needed:







With a world of apps available to download, it makes the Tab a much better proposition to a hema or the like IMO.














But that said, I already own my maps. If I had to go buy them from scratch, the Hema or the like may well represent better value for money. So this is where I'm at at the moment. A total outlay (excluding maps) of $400 has me up and running. Now I just need to get out there and use it and see if I can cope not having the functions full blown OziPc had.






EDIT: 11/08/17

I mentioned the internal GPS seemed a bit flakey. By that, I mean I could see the speed box on Ozi didn't seem accurate at times and even sitting on a constant speed it would show speeds that obviously were not correct. So I decided to see how an external GPS would fix that issue.

So enter the Globalsat BT-821 bluetooth module. I went the BT-821 route over the others for a couple of reasons. 

1. It was about the cheapest and I didn't want to spend a motza proving a concept
2. it wont work with Apple products. I have none anyway and don't plan on ever owning such
3. It has excellent battery life over the others if I don't want to power it on the go






I feel if money wasn't an option, I would have been keen on the Garmin  GLO. Although only having about 1/2 the battery life, it also connects with Glosnass. More sat's to connect with should mean greater accuracy?? But its also twice the price.

garmin GLO

The BT-821 only connects to the GPS sat's and a major downer is the only charger supplied is a car charger. Due to it having a 4.0 x 1.7mm jack plug, it wont accept standard usb cables. However cheap solutions for that can be found and I will be able to charge it inside once this cable arrives.

It was very easy to connect it to the tab and to ozi  android. So I took it on a run for about 100Km's on a route I initially tested it on where I found that "wobbly" speed issue. Wow, what a difference the BT GPS made. The speed function was now so much smoother and accurate and it held fix for longer in places where the internal one just dropped out. So I think I will be running the BT module as a permanent set up now. Whilst viewing the sat page on ozi didn't seem to show any increase in the number of sats or HDop between internal and BT gps, field results show it to be much more stable. I believe the recorded track will be much more accurate now.

Which leads to a question: do you need to buy a tab with internal GPS if you can just connect an external BT unit?  I suppose the additional cost of a BT unit would have to be taken into account to answer that question.


 One reservation I had about running ozi android over the pc version was compatibility of all my recorded logs over the years. I save them in .gpx format as this allows me to save both the track and waypoints in the one file. Unfortunately Ozi Android doesn't support this function in full.

You can load waypoints from a gpx file, but not tracks. So I was given a lead about a converter program. Thanks Maurice!

Ozi track converter 

I downloaded this program and gave it a trial. It is very easy to use and will extract a track from a .gpx file and save it as a .plt file, which then can be used in ozi android. So to save me some work extracting tracks from my .gpx inventory, I will just leave this app in place and should I ever need to view an old track log, I will just convert it in the field as required.

Winning!


Watch this space. 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

How to make a small fortune


19-25th June


So another year comes and so does another attempt at finding some Yellow. Meeting John at the leisurely hour of 9am, because we are not travelling as far this year, we headed off to the Bakehaus at Bindoon, to meet the third of the Party, Bruce. Bruce was coming from further South, via a different route to us, so the Bakehaus made the perfect meeting point. And I got to have a coffee and breakfast whilst we waited.

Stopping for fuel at Wubin, we had another 100 odd Km's before we turned off onto the dirt for a week of hunting for precious mineral:











An interesting article on Gold can be found here:

uses-of-gold


I was given a lead earlier in the year where some alluvial had been found. As time drew near, I wrote to the tenement holder seeking permission. I never received a reply from that. Lucky for me, I also wrote to another tenement holder nearby, and they gave us the permission to have a look around their exploration lease. A big thank you goes out to Minjar Gold for allowing us to have a look around their lease.
http://www.minjargold.com.au/

So the die was cast.





Another 50 or so Km's on, we then turned onto a mining track to seek our camp for the week. Having a spot marked that we spied on Google Earth about 6 Km up, it wasn't that impressive, so we went exploring. About 2Km South of that spot, we found a suitable place to camp up for the week. Although I was quite alarmed at the amount of vegetation. Pushing through this with a detector would be very hard work indeed:













Whilst making camp, or more likely, having a beer by the fire, John went off in search of some way points he had marked, some 600m away. When he returned, he said he had found an old shaft and the country opened up considerably. That was great news to hear. A relaxing night by the fire and we all retired to noddy land for the evening.










I surprised John the next morning, being up before sunrise. Unfortunately Bruce had issues with his hand held GPS. These issues we never resolved for the trip. This would put Bruce on the back foot, because there is no way you can venture into this country without GPS. Not if you want to return that is. So he had to stick to visual navigation, which meant he couldn't venture into the scrub like John and myself did. A late start after some coffee and breakfast, John lead the way, through the thick scrub where he showed us the mine he found yesterday:





lots of open ground was presented  to us, so we all headed off in different directions, with radio contact to make our fortunes.We would use this mine as our meeting point when we worked the area. A few hours in and we returned to Ground Zero (GZ) to swap tales of all the junk we had found. We hadn't found a lot in all reality, which in some ways is a bonus. But a nice piece of yella wouldn't go astray. The hair thin pieces of wire, about 10mm in length was a pain. I found a few of these over the week. Also, digging a fair hole for a target turning out to be a can lid was depressing:





A small rest and a bite to eat, we headed out again to make our fortunes. the ground showed promise:




 But it wasn't to be. Returning to GZ, it wasn't to be for the others either. So we made the 600m trek back to camp where John proceeded to cook a roast. Having half a lamb, he fed the lot of us. Thanks mate, it was delicious:





Over breakfast the following morning, we decided the ground we worked yesterday looked good and we should return. More so because it was open. There was no way you could detect most of the ground in this area, the vegetation just being so thick. Open ground was good but I was unsure. Whilst there were some nice patches of quartz, there was also a lot of banded iron and iron stone about. Not that I'm an expert, but I think there was just too much iron for good alluvial finds.

So we made our way to GZ and set up for another day of detecting. I decided I would push on for the base of a hill to the West. At first the ground was open, then the vegetation started. Ducking and weaving, trying to find a clear path was a chore. And bugger me, a good Km from GZ, on the slope of a hill full of vegetation, I found evidence that someone had detected before me. Its got me beat. No matter how far you venture, you always find evidence of someone being here before you. Its bloody amazing.

So I returned to GZ to meet the others. A bite to eat and John said he would show us some more workings he had found in the morning stint close by:











Lots of hand dug holes here. The trench above was impressive, that would have taken some work. We mused on what made them dig there in the first place. Had there been alluvial finds here in days long gone?  We decided to return to camp and take the vehicles for a drive to assess the territory. Bruce's car needed a run anyway. He was running a fridge, on one battery, with no capacity to recharge it.

So off exploring we go. First stop was the breakaway where we were supposed to camp at:






And then we checked some old activity nearby. I was planning to head up to a couple of inactive mines I had marked up by Chullar Hill, about 20Km's away. That hill can be seen clear as day from the breakaway:






Along station tracks we go, coming to an old bore:






The sign on the stock holding fence proving they are a funny bunch out here:







Continuing on, we came to an active mine site and had to cross their haul road. The tracks on my maps don't quite match the route we are travelling, no doubt, changed by the recent mining activity. It's now 1530 in the afternoon and I'm worried about getting back to camp in time. So we can the idea of old mines exploration and head South for camp. We come to the junction of the Midday track. Bruce wasn't keen - he reckoned it was overgrown. Apart from a couple of acacia's at the start, it looked fine to me, so we ventured on. Camp only being some 11Km away. Unfortunately we only made 650m on this track before it closed in. So a complex turn around manoeuvre had us going back the way we came. So our 11Km shortcut got turned into a 26Km back over the same ground grind. We arrived back to camp just before dark and proceeded to get dinner on the way. Another nice night by the fire with desert from John - lemon crisp biscuits. You must thank your wife for that, it was a great choice.


Our third day on the ground, we headed South from camp in the cars looking for ground. Coming across some interesting stuff, we parked up - in the shadows of another old working. I headed East for some 750m. Coming down a hill full of ironstone, I reached the flats where in times lots of water flowed. After a couple of hours with no prospects, I decided to head back to the car. Just in time too, the weather was changing rapidly and it looked like rain. I just made it to the car before the first sprinkles set in. That's as bad as it got though. The wind was certainly increasing and the cloud looked ominous.





John had a find on the track, close to the car. It took him a bit just to get it out the hole, then he had to find it. I tried to tell him, on a track, adjacent to old workings was not a good sign. But he followed through (as one should)

That event was recorded here:





Funny as.......not!

For the second stint, I made my way towards the boundary of an existing lease. Once off the hill the ground showed reasonable prospect. But again, the precious stuff alluded me. With the cloud now pouring in, I made my way back to the car.

Returning to camp at a decent hour, I got the camp oven under way. Yet another bloody roast. We had 3 roasts in total on this trip:






And whilst the weather was threatening, we only got 3 small showers...that lasted all of a couple of minutes for each. Perth had been hammered, so we dodged a bullet.

The fourth day on the ground, and we were getting a little disheartened. We took the cars out again. I mentioned that track that passed by GZ must come off the main track. We headed out to the main road and came across what was obviously either an old miners camp, station workings or both. Evidence of cans suggest to me old mining camps. Evidence of ruined buildings suggest station outposts. So I believe it's a combination of both:












We crossed to the other side in search of ground. Lots of rubbish here would make detecting a pain, so we head back North . With a bit of looking around and we found the track which passed GZ. We proceeded past the old workings (GZ) and ventured a bit further North, again stopping at some good looking ground. But alas, we came home empty handed.

Bruce, being stuck to the track having no GPS found a lot. A lot of nails, tacks and other assorted bits of junk. John and myself remarked on the lack of wildlife. We saw no evidence of anything other than birds. Even their scats were few and far between. Though this brings the detectorist some advantage. No wildlife = no bullets.





John remarked by the campfire, he had decided to leave a day early. He would go home solo tomorrow. Bruce and myself would stay another day as planned.

John departed about 0930 whilst myself and Bruce went in search of ground. I had noted some interesting looking ground out by the main road, so out there we went. On the way I decided to stop in on a mining lease, which was about 2km from our camp. I was surprised to see an active site, some boys on the drill rig hard at work:






Although there was no "no entry" signs anywhere, we didn't hang around. We didn't want a warning shot over our heads. I'm sure if we were sighted they would have been not to happy. Such is the breed out in these parts.

Back to the track which leads to the main road, I spotted some old workings, so we ventured in to investigate. Wow, a lot of work had been done hear some time ago. A hand dug trench about 1.5m in width at the top, going some 50m in length with a depth of about 10m. Bloody hell, I thought the trench near GZ would be hard work. This was something else again. And around this trench was a few other shafts that had been dug.













But sight seeing was not our main aim, so we found some ground out off the main road and once again, unsuccessfully prospected for a couple of hours. Then proceeding back to camp, again on some nice open ground, we had our last stint for this trip. The yellow was elusive. We came back to our last campfire richer for the experience but not for mineral wealth. I'm starting to set a trend here and I need to get this monkey off my back.

Lucky for us, John had brought some prior found samples for us to google over, or we would never have seen any:







Having to water the plants at 0330, I decided to have a crack at some star trail photography with the GoPro. Unfortunately, with both phone and GoPro batteries flat, I had to gin around for about an hour before I retired back to the swag. I let it do its stuff. Set on 30 second exposure and continuous night shooting mode, the GoPro took lots of pictures.

And I got some interesting results on reviewing the recording once home. First up, I plugged in a power bank to keep the camera running. For some reason, this didn't work and the GoPro battery went flat whilst the powerbank didn't discharge. So I have one problem to look into. Secondly, I think if you are to dabble in this, you need some lit background as all you really see is little dots moving around a black sky. It needs some reference. But I also lucked in. The camera stopped recording just before dawn. This allowed the foreground and sky to be lit. Using some software to compile the images together and form the start rail I managed to get this remarkable shot.










Beginners luck I reckon. But it showed me why I need some partially lit background. I will definitely try this again.

The compiled images made the following clip:



So with coffee done it was time to pack for home. On the track out at 0930, I told Bruce I would wait at every turn off point so he didn't get lost. With no GPS nor UHF he would need my guidance. The plan was to head to Watheroo and have lunch at the pub.

Hitting the main road, I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. After 15 minutes with no sign of Bruce, something must be wrong. The track was only 6Kn long after all. So I ventured back up in search of him. Only 500m up, he rounded a corner, flashing his lights. Bout time! So I reversed into the bush to turn around. Bruce came up to my window. Yep, he had an issue....Bugger.

Upon leaving camp, he realised he left his camp mug behind, so he reversed back to grab it. Straight into a tree....Grrrrr

He was not a happy man, as one would expect. A damaged bumper, tailgate and rear canopy window shattered into thousands of pieces. Worst of all, we had all this dirt to travel and the back of his ute would hoover this dust, straight into his tub. So we made the only decision. We canned the pub. The least amount of gravel was the way we came in 7 days ago.

You had to feel sorry for the bloke. I scratched his car (once again) and now he had all this damage to sort out. Worst of all, he was planned to go away again the next week and this damage would make that journey a chore.





Arriving in Wubin, we got our first real phone coverage for a week. Txt messages going off, one was from John. He too had some adventures. 5 minutes from home (which was a lucky break for him), the car started bellowing black smoke. He got the camper trailer in the driveway but that was the end of the ranger. Certainly wasn't a great trip vehicle wise:






3K later, with new injectors the ranger lives another day. I haven't heard back from Bruce how he has got on yet.

So another week long adventure has been completed. Not the way we would have liked, but oh well, at least we were not at work!

So how do you make a small fortune? Well, you start off with a large fortune and take up prospecting. That should turn your large fortune small in no time.



Trip Stats:

6 nights under canvas
920km travelled
107L fuel used
for an average of  11.7 L/100Km
cost of fuel $133
camp fees nil


With Yeagerup, The Anne Beadell, logue Brook Dam, Mukka and now Ninghan complete, (some of those trips not reported here) the running tally so far this year is 27 nights under canvas. It will be a few months now before I can add to the tally.



And the trip video can be seen below:









 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

It's 50 in the desert, part II


April 2 -17

How cool. As I write this entry, a milestone I hadn't anticipated has been struck.
My blog has now had > 100, 000 hits. Awesome effort and thanks to you all for reading. Hot smile

100K_zpsvbnwmnuu




Part II:
So, after 6 days of big travels, I've made Adelaide. With a few milestones yet to complete:

Milestone 2: celebrating my long lost mates 50th birthday
Milestone 3: returning across the Nullarbor by roads less travelled
Milestone 4: Getting enough geocaches found to get my tally to 200 or above



Saturday and I get taken around to my long lost mates (Rick's) place. To be honest, he was a bit shocked to see me. Age may have wearied them, but instantly recognisable after 25 years I still am. I made comment "you don't think I just crossed the desert for fun did you"? Thanks for inviting me Helen.

We chat for a few hours and I head back to his Mum's place, where I stayed for my duration in Adelaide. Set up the swag in the garage, I'm still chalking up nights under canvas. Later in the afternoon, Rick comes around to his mum's place and then finds he has had a surprise 50Th thrown for him. It was a great night. Another long lost soul of Ricks came from Sydney. Between him and myself,  Rick was well shocked.

Happy 50th Birthday mate!

Sunday was a quiet affair, until more people came over for a second celebration. The weather now had turned. Overcast, occasional showers and windy as hell. Nothing like in the desert. I was constantly watching the weather to see what I had in store on the way home.

And then came Monday. Happy Birthday to me! After Ricks mum made me an awesome bacon and egg breakfast, it was time to hit the road yet again. Rick had flown out to Whyalla earlier in the morning, I was to meet him there. 5 hours or so of my 50th on the road. A later start than I had planned, I bid farewell to Rick's mum at 0945 local. But the plan had a hiccup. I was pulled over for an hour 15 minutes after leaving. Another Pajero forum recognised me and told me to pull over. An hour in a carpark later and GLSGLS was happy to see these black fella feet get the hell out of his town.

With daylight, navigating my way out of the city was a breeze. Onto the Wakefield Rd and all was well. I had 2 not so good introductions to Adelaide when I came down this road. 1 - a caravan turned in front of me as I was bearing down on him at 110Km/h near Pt Germein. And 2, a bit later, rounding a corner I had a car on my side of the road overtaking a truck. Welcome to South Australia. Lucky for me, there were no issues on the return Journey, but a couple of vehicles towing in WA had me shake my head.


Falling behind time now, I stopped for fuel outside my Grandfather's home town of Pt Pirie and took a shot of the stack for a bit of nostalgia:

DSC_0144_zpsjwngfiet




Time now being 1230 local, Whyalla was looking to be a later than planned arrival. But I got there in the end, about 1400. Rick had a friend with him (Sharmane) and we started having a couple of pre-birthday drinks. And Ricks brother - well over 30 years since I'd seen him - came around too. About 1800, 3 of us met Ricks 2 half brothers at the pub, where Rick made sure I was well fed and watered. Back to the hotel room and I finished my birthday watching "scream" on the box.


Day 9 finished, 400Km's travelled.

day 9_zps5pbymxts


Tuesday arrived and it was time for the long haul home. Topping up my water jerry with the 3.5L of water I had consumed since Perth, I bid farewell to Rick and headed South for Pt lincoln at 1000. Milestone #2 now knocked off, it was time to concentrate on #4 - getting some caches found.

Spotting a sign post for Lucky Bay, I drove in for a look. And a surprise that was, for I had found where the ferry arrived from Walleroo.

DSC_0147_zpsfk5m6epx





Not having any caches downloaded from home, I was reliant on an internet connection now for some finds. And as luck would have it, there was one here, right next to the shacks the locals lived in:

DSC_0148_zpsmtleva1j




And lucky stumps (GC6A8GN) now had my stamp added to the log book. Next port of call, I dropped in on Arno Bay. A bite for lunch and I went to find another cache. But I had a small issue. My app C:geo wouldn't log in. Whilst I could see there were caches near, I couldn't navigate to it. It had me stumped and after 15 Minutes of ginning around, without success, I moved on. Pt Lincoln still another 120 odd Km's away and I had to find a place to park up for the night. So I bypassed some places like Tumby Bay so I could find a nice spot for the night. Arriving Pt Lincoln about 1530, I went to the supermarket to replenish some items I would need on the Nullarbor. Then onto Wiki Camps, I found a spot that was worth investigating, so off I head.

And I found my spot for the night at Sleaford Bay at 1615:

DSC_0150_zpsiscj4iym




The ground being hard limestone, I didn't even bother with a peg. The copper log fence provided a suitable anchor point.

DSC_0149_zpsvo8darro




From desert dunes, I now make my way along some coastal scenery until I can find some roads less travelled across the Nullarbor. Unfortunately, while the sun came out - finally - it was blowing its ring off and I spent most of the night huddled beside the Paj, strategically positioned as a wind break.

But I had something to trial. Disposable frying pans (disposable aluminium foil trays). My only cooking source was either a fire or a butane cooker. For the butane cooker, I had a hot plate. Wipe it clean afterwards, use no water for cleaning frying pans. So  I decided Pad Thai in the disposable frying pan was the go:

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It worked a treat. Cook the chicken on the hotplate. Once done, put on a plate. Then stir fry some greens with noodles in the disposable pan on the hotplate with the chicken, fish sauce, sweet chilli sauce and tamarind paste added. Apart from overdoing it on the tamarind paste, it was pretty bloody good. And you get to eat straight from the pan. Just a couple of cooking and eating utensils to wash. Wipe the hotplate clean and throw the disposable pan in the rubbish bag on the rear door - Nice! I'll have to try these with some other dishes.

Hiding from the wind, I rang a mate in Perth and filled him in on the events thus far. But I had to cut the call short - a bad moon was arising and I wanted some pictures:

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With the wind still howling, It was pointless staying up, so I retired to bed early

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Come the morning, the wind had dropped and a heavy dew had set in. this was to plague me all the way home. I hadn't used the awning for the 6 days to Adelaide as there was no dew. I was to use the awning everyday from here on in, unless I found some shelter. That had the effect of delaying my departure times, waiting for an awning to dry out.

The moon still visible on the Western horizon come morning:

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Day 10 finished, 314Km's travelled.

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It was 1000 before I hit the road. Ceduna was further than I thought, some 420km away. And I had planned to camp about 70Km's further out from there that night. So with my C:geo app playing up, and the distance to travel, I had no time for caching nor sight seeing.

Reluctantly passing by the Coffin Bay turn off, I continued Northwards. At 0130 I decided a lunch stop at Streaky Bay was in order. A pie from the bakery sitting by the shoreline. Its such a pretty little place here, even more so today with not a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind in the offering:

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But push on I must. Hoping to make Cactus Beach for the night and maybe even catching up with Frank (from my Coober Pedy stop) who said he would still be there today. Making Ceduna at 1530, I took on a rather large quantity of fuel :110L of diesel after 940 odd Km's travelled. Fuel pricing from here will only get worse until I get to Norseman in WA. Floater off the Pajero forum informs me Nundroo is 30 cpl cheaper than Nullarbor Roadhouse (where I plan to veer from the highway), so I will top up there before the big crossing, but optimise the bill by taking on a full load at Ceduna.

20Km's from town, it was time to do some work on milestone #4 (gaining my 200 geocache tally). Now, I had some caches preloaded from home, across the Nullarbor, so the C:geo app not working wouldn't trouble me so much. Stopping in I picked off Kloedens Ruins (GC4G4TM) pretty quickly and was back heading West for Penong soon enough.

Not knowing what the dirt road in from Penong to Cactus was like, I was a little concerned with the time now being 1630 and 20 odd Km's to the camp for the night. But I should not have feared. Cactus Beach is a world renowned surf break and must have some traffic going down it. It wasn't bad at all. A few decent sized pot holes to avoid and a lot of family sedans coming out.

Now, I know nothing of the camping at the place and passed a major campsite on the right. Continuing on straight ahead, the road leads to Port LeHunte. And what a pretty little view that presented me with:

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But with the time now being 1700, there was no time for taking in the scenery, I had to get camp sorted. I find the only designated camping in the area is at the camp ground I passed on the way in. The whole area is private property and in an effort to protect the environment, the land holder has constructed a large, 2 section camp ground. It even has flushing dunnies in a cubicle made from local limestone boulders.

Making my way in, I head for the ground furthest South. It is chock a block full. So off to the other side and I find about 3 spots to choose from (Its the day before Good Friday and I wonder if its always like this or is it just early Easter arrivals?). None of the spots available are ideal, but I pick the flattest one and get to work getting my crap together. I note that Ole Frank is not hear, and I'm not surprised by that really. Time now 1715 with not a lot of sun left in the day. Whilst cooking dinner, the property owner comes around and I have to pay the only camp fee of the 16 day journey.

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With the sun now gone, it was time to get the camera out again as the evil moon made its presence felt above the limestone rubble flushing dunny:

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Day 11 finished, 521Km's travelled.

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Another rather pleasant night and some dew once again, I hit the road at 0930. First up was to head down to Port LeHunte again for a decent look. There was a couple here by the jetty, and after a stroll out to the end I got chatting with them. They were making their way for Waroona in WA. The woman decided to show me her pets. Green Tree frogs. They were so cool I had to grab a pic:

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Then I tried to find my way to Cactus beach itself. A rough limestone track with side tracks going everywhere, I eventually found my way. Here is the site of another Geocache I had to pick off (GC2QD94). The scenery was stunning, but the freakin March flies were in swarms.

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I would have loved to stay longer, but the march flies biting me every 30 seconds dictated I push on for roads less travelled. Today I would leave the Nullarbor (highway) and probably have a couple of days of peace without people. Prior to Nullarbor Roadhouse, I picked off another 2 caches (GC287HP and GCG399) before making the roadhouse by 1430. Stopping off for an hour here for lunch, I met Floater and his girlfriend. But like always, time was marching on and I still had some ground to travel. Here I turned off the highway to complete milestone #3 - roads less travelled. - one more box left to tick.

100Km's of rough limestone track to get to tonight's camp - Koonalds Homestead - where I can have a well earned shower (with no privacy at Cactus, I had to forgo one there). I stopped for a picture where the Cook road meets this track. To the North, some 370Km's away is Volkes Hill Corner, on the Anne Beadell Highway, where I had passed a week ago:

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A little further on and I came across a Dingo. Much fatter and in much better shape than the ones I spotted on the AB. No doubt, the food source for them is much better down here:

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It was nearly 1700 by the time I reached Koonalda. The beauty of travelling West within a time zone is a later setting sun. Desperately wanting a shower, I was shocked to see people everywhere when I made the Homestead. That's going to make having a shower a bit hard....again.....

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2 separate lots were in Vans parked up by the shearers quarters. But a group from Flinders University posed the greater issue. They had commandeered both the Homestead and the shearers quarters. I quickly said my hello's and got onto showering duties before taking a walk around all the old wrecks to be found here.

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The Uni group belonged to Fussi, a cave research club, found here: FUSSI  which was pretty cool really, seeing I have dabbled in some caving and rope work in the long lost past. I thought we might have some some common ground. I was keen to hear what research they were performing here asked too many questions? A single bloke, looking a bit rough after near 2 weeks on the road, I was probably conjuring up some Wolf Creek images to them. I mentioned back in 1992 I had abseiled the bight, all 80 metres of it to the waterline. They probably thought I was full of it, so I reproduce the one image I have of the feat. Find the purple tee shirt if you can. We wont mention being tied off to the rear axle of a commodore, nor no helmet etc. such was the times Surprised smile


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I have read some of the FUSSI newsletters since, and if I was Adelaide based, I might even bet tempted to join and help you out. It looks like you do some fantastic work. Good one! Anyone with a love of caves and rope work is a friend of mine. I hope Heiko is felling better.

I asked if they had issue with me setting the swag under the homestead verandah, which thankfully they were ok with. Just as well, as you will see later. And whilst I was cooking dinner by the homestead, they invited me for a few drinks in the quarters once I was done.

One member of their group was Clem. An indigenous advisor. I had good conversation with Clem trying to absorb what I could about the cultural significance of the area. He mentioned he was involved in a new business venture, offering a cultural camping experience in the region. I wished him all the success they deserve and attach a shameless plug to their website: Ancient Land Tours

The night ended with a nice sunset before I headed off to join the FUSSI group for a couple of drinks.

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Day 12 finished, 349Km's travelled.
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Picking the homestead veranda was a wise move. I woke before sun up and a magnificent fog had settled over the land. The dew was horrendous. The homestead awning sure saved me a wet pack up today. I just had to get up, grab the camera and snap some shots before it disappeared:


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It was truly a remarkable sight. I went and found the geocache located here that I had found back in 2012, brought it back to the group and showed them what it was all about. It had been bugging me where it was located and I had to pull up my old tracklog to gather the co-ordinates and re find the bloody thing. I must be getting old. I mentioned to Clem I was venturing further off track a little later today, visiting another cave nearby. I mentioned a few other Nullarbor caves with caches I would visit on the way home. He was a little concerned at first, but I reiterated that the caches are at known caves, well patronised and were not in area's one was not supposed to be in. They are rules of geocaching, and he seemed a little relieved at that. You cant go place one where one is not allowed to be.

Why, I cant explain as I had very little gear to pack and no awning to dry. But I got a late start today, heading North for Koonalda cave at 1030. Upon arrival, the FUSSI group were well into preparations for descending into the abyss

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But it was great to see I set a trend all those years ago with vehicle anchor points :)

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A shot with the Paj needed to be taken for posterity. I had the old one here last time:

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Its now 1100 and I have to go. So I bid my farewells to the group and head for the shearing shed. I note the old wool bale scale has disappeared since I was here last, which is a bit disappointing:

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Its 1130 before I hit the track heading West again. About 45 uneventful Km's on the rough rock track and I make my diversion track. This is unknown country to me now and I plan about 100Km's of this track to poke my nose out on the highway at Eucla. As soon as I turn onto it I note the significant difference in track quality. No rock. It was softer soil based. Dusty as hell. It wouldn't be a place to venture into when there was a bit of moisture around. And the track was mainly just two wheel tracks with foot high grass separating the tracks. All I could think of was you wouldn't want to stop in this stuff due to the risk of a grass fire. However, quite a few clay-pan's appear and offer a safer place to stop:

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I took another 10Km detour and visited Warbla Cave. The only thing of note I saw here was a shed skin from a snake. I know they must be around, and I took all precautions in my snake proof boots :), but I never had the luck to see any on my journey so far.

Unsure if I was to see any fanfare or sign-age at the border, a rock cairn with a couple of empty stubbies would have to do. No quarantine check point here. It felt like a drug runner route:

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Nearing the end, in the Weebubbie Cave area, the easy to traverse ground changed to limestone rock hopping. Some slow bouncing stretches to navigate. But all was well and at 1415 I poked my nose out just shy of Eucla, without event, but a car absolutely covered in dust from head to toe. I reckon there was an inch of dust coating the back step.

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Milestone #3 now completed, there will be no more roads less travelled from here. A quick stop in Eucla for another cache (GCTB9C) and I was on the road heading West, destination unknown. Now cruising along the Hampton Table land, I dropped in at a roadside stop for another cache (GC2Z9T0). A water tank with a large sheltered top would be an ideal spot to camp, but being 1600 (I had just gained 1.5 hours by crossing the border), I reckon I can make Madura tonight, another 60Km's West. As I swing past the shelter, low and behold, who is here?

Yep, you guessed it, it's Frank. Well instead of spending a week at Cactus, he moved on the next day. Then he went to Esperance as planned. He had planned to spend 6 months in the South West, but had a change of mind. He was on his way back to Cairns, where he had come from when I first met him in Coober Pedy. Like wtf dude. Sure he was a loveable chap, what with himself and his 6 month old kitten. But he had some "issues" too. He was telling me the yanks had thrown a huge bomb down a cave in Syria since I had left (I hadn't seen the news since I left home 2 weeks ago - and that was bloody fantastic). Some yanks had gone into the cave and got decimated by an animal of huge proportion, an unknown species to mankind. They sent another lot of troops down and they nearly suffered the same fate. The second lot confirmed this beast and managed to shoot this monster dead. It took some work to kill it dead as bullets didn't make it flinch. The yanks, not wanting news of this beast to make the public realm, and also afraid there might be others down there, unloaded the largest non nuclear weapon down the hole, killing all evidence of this beasts existence. Such is Frank, god love him :)

So I showed Frank all there was to know about geocaching, and then got the hell out of there, like a monster in a cave about to have the bejesus blown out of him.

Arriving on top of the Madura Pass at 1650, I picked off another cache (GCJQGW), I decided to head out to Madura Cave, pick off another Cache (GC6Z2WT) and spend the night there. Dodging quite a few roo's had me slow down a little. But upon arrival at the cave, I found the ground unsuitable for spending the night, so I drove back up the pass, forgoing a few caches further to the South. It was starting to get late now and I finally made camp around 1830, where the sun had already set.

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An excellent spot, very high above the Hampton Tablelands with views for miles. Doing some timing of when I saw truck headlights appear to the time they pass, I calculate at least 12Km of visual distance of road to the East.


Day 13 finished, 339Km's travelled.

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Waking up in the morning to a most spectacular view, I had a slow start and had a play with the camera. I'm less than a days drive from home now, still with 3 days to kill and no plans on where to be. So I could afford to indulge in such luxuries (unlike the crossing of the Anne Beadell)

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And I played with some special effects on the camera. HDR oil painting mode:

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Apart from dropping in on another cave today, there wasn't a lot planned. On the road at 0930, 45Km's from camp I picked up another cache at a roadside stop (GC4R9Z8).





Arriving at Cocklebiddy, I added another one to the tally (GC4687K) and proceeded up the track about 10Km's that leads to the entrance of Cocklebiddy Cave

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This cave is world renowned. It has the longest passage of underwater caverns of all the caves on the Nullarbor. A cave divers meca. Where once the public could access the cave, its now locked up and entry is tightly controlled.

On the highway again heading towards Caiguna, I noted a vehicle approaching from behind, making good ground on me. When he passed, All I could do was shake my head, if not for the fuel bill, the safety of it all. It was Easter and double demerits were in play, although I saw no mobile patrols at all:

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Caiguna is the start of Australia's longest straight stretch of road. If it wasn't for the 4 caches I picked off along here (GC2NNJ6, GC287H1, CGJDVP and GC4JDTH) it would have made a long day.  





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The fourth cache was at another roadside stop and I decided to make it an early home for the night at 1615 and grab another nice shower. There were quite a few caravanners here, I just picked a spot to get away from them a little. But I should have moved on. The place was nothing short of a filthy mess. The bins were exploding, rubbish was strewn everywhere and the worst part was most of the rubbish was dunny paper. And this was a site that had 2 newish drop dunnies - how does that work then??. It really put a downer on the place. If it wasn't for the handy picnic table, I would have set up way out the back, away from all the crap. Mind you, I had stopped in a few roadside stops since Ceduna in the quest for more caches, and most of them had quite a lot of rubbish about the place. In complete contrast to the Anne Beadell which had nothing. How I long for the desert again..... But the sunset was a killer. Pity I couldn't find a nice piece of skyline to photograph it from:


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Day 14 finished, 308Km's travelled.

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The beauty of roadside stops - A truck pulls in at 0300 and idles away a mere 10 meters from my swag for the next half an hour before he departs again. That killed my sleep pattern. So I was up early, coffee soon on the boil. During my second cup, a guy comes over for a chat. Its been a bit weird this trip, anyone except Frank and this bloke have been very stand-offish and not that friendly in all honesty. It must be that Wolfe Creek syndrome - either that or I just smell a bit.....

On the road early today at 0715 due to my early waking hour, I can put in a bit more effort for home. I pick off the cache at the Western end of the longest straight (GC2Z9RE):

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I had been watching my fuel ever so slowly evaporate since I came out at Eucla. Constantly making mental calculations on where my next fuel stop would need to be. I was hoping for Norseman and by the time I got to Balladonia, I reckoned I had enough to make it. Making Balladonia, I really considered taking the old Telegraph Road to Norseman, but I could smell home from here and opted to stay on the black top. The vegetation had changed from salt bush to salmon gum, I was now in the Greater Western Woodlands - almost home.

Dropping into Newman Rock for another cache (GC6J6CH), the granite outcrop very reminiscent of all those found in the Wheatbelt and Goldfields regions:

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And my last cache along the Nullarbor at Buldania Rocks (GC4478) before finally hitting Norseman and taking on 135L of diesel after travelling 1183Km since my last top up at Nundroo. I hadn't had a roadhouse burger all trip, so I broke that tradition here and spent some time logging all my finds to date. But would it be enough to give me the 200???

Well it wasn't. I had a few earth caches to file - they require emailing some specific questions about the place to the cache owner. I would leave them until I got home. But I was 3 caches short - bummer. I will have to pick those up on the way home.

It was 1220 when I departed Norseman, my figuring was to camp somewhere overnight at a roadside stop and make for home in the morning. Karalee Rocks sounded good to me, I will just have to see how we go for time.

The trip to Coolgardie was interesting. It showed me it was not just South Aussies that were shit at driving. being well overtaken by the Juggernaut on the Nullarbor, I had another tool to contend with. This one, overtook me 3 times in the 170Km's between Norseman and Coolgardie. So much for double demerits and the distance you gained from the speed you drove at.:

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I made another 60Km's West of Coolgardie before pulling over early for the night at another roadside stop at 1515. It was pretty early, but I had mobile coverage and I needed to download some more caches to check off milestone #4. I also had a very pretty site in among the salmon gums and had access to some timber for a nice fire for the last night.
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It was then I discovered 2 problems - flies - little bastards were friendly indeed. I hadn't really seen any (apart the March Flies at Cactus) the whole trip:


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And problem #2: hotspotting my tablet to my laptop I find I cant download coordinated direct to my gps via windows 10. In among the flies and some beer, I had to give up and manually enter the coordinates. A tedious process indeed.

Apart from the fact some knob left 2 empty cans in a fire ring, when there were at least 6 bins in close proximity, the place was spotless. It was welcome relief - once I put the cans in the bin for said knob.

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With a nice fire going, it was time for baked bean, Jarlsberg cheese and onion jaffles - yep I had onion this time :)

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Once night fell, there was some thunder in the distance and a few lightning strikes a fair distance away. But once the jaffles were done, it started to lightly rain and said thunder and lightning approached. I was huddled under my awning and taking some GoPro footage when it struck:

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Lucky for me, it lasted about 15 minutes and I was able to retire by the fire for the rest of the night, watching the lightning in the distance.


Day 15 finished, 470Km's travelled.

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And so we get to the last day. On the road at 0800, I picked off my 3 caches to close out milestone #4 - getting my tally to 200 finds. (GC28ECF, GC2E2CH and lucky last GC46EJN). The last being at Karalee where I had thought about camping, some 80Km's West of where I camped last night. I must get myself to camp there one day.

A final refuel in Southern Cross, I had some lunch in Mundaring and made it in the door at 1600. Looking very dirty and a little battle scared, all I could do was to think I need to do the Anne Beadell again. Not over 4 days next time though.

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Day 16 finished, 528Km's travelled.

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Trip Stats:

4 milestones completed
16 Days on the road
6700km travelled
813L of fuel used
for an average of  12.14 L/100Km
cost of fuel $1221
camp fees $15
Permit fees $35
4 cans of butane
7L of water (+5L of shower water)
1/2 a block of beer, 2 x 4L casks of goon, 1 bottle of home brew bourbon and one bottle of tokay
and another 14 nights under canvas, even if 3 of them were in someone's garage :)


















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The next journey should be a week in the goldfields, looking for some yellow: Coming soon.